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December 30, 2002
PR 344-02


Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws

"The bill before me today is Introductory Number 256-A, sponsored at my request by
26 Council Members including Quinn, Oddo, Brewer, DeBlasio, Felder, Foster, Gerson, Koppell, Martinez, Perkins, Sears, Serrano, Stewart, Vann, Comrie, Lopez, Reyna, Vallone, Jr., Baez, Diaz, Provenzano, Recchia, Jr., Yassky, Davis, Gennaro and Liu. This legislation amends the 1995 Smoke-Free Air Act to ensure that public places including bars, nightclubs and restaurants and all places of employment in New York City are smoke-free.

"Today's bill signing is an historic event for New York City. In 1995, the City Council enacted the Smoke-Free Air Act, putting New York City on the forefront of municipalities protecting its citizens from the dangers of second-hand smoke. The Smoke-Free Air Act of 1995 was a major first step in protecting the workers and the public from the known dangers of second-hand smoke, which has been classified as a 'Group A carcinogen' by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Today, we build upon that legacy. As one bartender aptly put it: 'All I want is the same right to a safe, smoke-free workplace that millions of other workers have.' By signing Intro. 256-A, which extends the 1995 legislation to almost all restaurants, bars and places of business, New York extends the protections from second hand smoke to all its workers.

"Intro 256-A once again puts New York City at the forefront of the global effort to protect workers from the deadly effects of second-hand smoke and to stop the epidemic of tobacco-related illness. This epidemic was confirmed earlier this year when the Health Department found that more than 400,000 New York City non-smoking workers - one out of every 7 workers - inhale second-hand smoke all or most of the time while on the job. More than two thirds of these workers are African American, Latino, or Asian.

"States, counties and municipalities from across the country are joining New York City in its fight against the dangers of second hand smoke. Everyone knows of the successes of the California prohibition against smoking in bars and restaurants and recently the City of Boston and Nassau County passed tough new anti-smoking legislation. We are in the midst of a nation-wide movement of improving public health and New York City is rightfully in the lead.

"New scientific evidence reveals additional significant health risks of second-hand smoke. Just thirty minutes of exposure to second-hand smoke can cause changes in the blood and the heart, which increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. No one should have to choose between their health and their work.

"Intro. 256-A extends the smoke-free air legislation in order to protect as many New York City workers as possible. In addition, this legislation will result in smokers smoking less and fewer people smoking overall. Less than 20 percent of New Yorkers smoke and the vast majority of them want to quit. Smoke-free workplace legislation helps them accomplish this goal without harming business.

"This law does not legislate morality. This law does not take away anyone's rights. This law allows working people to earn a living in a safe workplace so they can provide for their families

"New York City is the greatest City in the world. We are the safest large City in the United States. And with the passage of this legislation, we have taken a major step toward becoming one of the healthiest cities to live and work in as well. New York City will be healthier, people will live longer, and the air we breathe will be cleaner than it has ever been before.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Commissioner of Health, Thomas Frieden, and his staff for their tireless work on this historic legislation. I would especially like to thank Speaker Miller, the Chair of the Health Committee Councilmember Quinn and Minority Leader James Oddo, for all of their support and hard work in securing the passage of this legislation."


Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz
(212) 788-2958